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Enterprise SOA by Thomas Mattern, Dan Woods

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What are semantic standards, and how do they help build IT solutions?

Semantic standards—sometimes referred to as business standards—are an attempt to preserve meaning and lower the risk of misinterpretation as data is moved from one IT system to another. Without semantic standards to govern the structuring and tagging (with XML, for example) of individual chunks of data, what System A may perceive as valuable and vital information, System B may reject as gibberish.

Thus, semantic standards are absolutely key to today's IT activities, in which users are trying to weave together enterprise services, enable IT systems to collaborate, and link to their business partners and customers as closely as possible. While it's possible for a set of business partners to work out their own, closed set of semantic standards, it's much more practical and economical to employ the growing number of standards that industry associations are hammering out. The vast majority of the cost of building connections between systems derives from the work involved in understanding the semantics and business logic involved. Clearly, if the semantics are standardized, integration costs can be reduced significantly.

Are semantic standards simply sets of XML tags?

Semantic standards encompass more than the vocabularies of XML tags that many vertical industry groups have hammered out for their own purposes. Those vocabularies—the high-tech industry's RosettaNet is a typical example—focus on the format or content of ...

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